Chase Utley isn’t the only left-handed Phillie who has seen his power drop off significantly over the past two seasons. Utley and Ryan Howard will forever be linked in the minds of fans and Howard’s power is down since the start of 2010 as well.
The left-right splits on the power drop aren’t as dramatic for Howard as it was for Utley, but Howard has also seen his power against righties drop more than it has against lefties over the past two seasons.
Howard arrived in Philly during the 2004 season, getting his first plate appearance on September 1, pinch-hitting for Vicente Padilla with one out in the fifth, Marlon Byrd on first and the Phils down 5-2. Atlanta’s Jaret Wright struck him out looking. Howard got just 42 plate appearances in 2004, but was off and running in 2005. In ’05 he hit .288 with 22 homers in just 348 plate appearances as he won Rookie of the Year in the NL (despite the fact that Willy Tavares and his 291/325/341 line in Colorado managed more than 20% of the first-place votes).
Howard didn’t exactly shine against left-handed pitching in 2005, going a meager 9-for-61 against them with a 148/175/246 line and striking out in about 41.3% of his plate appearances.
If his ’05 performance elevated concerns about whether he would ever hit lefties or not, he appeared to respond in dramatic fashion in 2006. He hit a monster 279/364/558 against lefties with 16 home runs in 225 plate appearances.
That was, however, as good as it would get for Howard against lefties. In the five seasons since the end of 2005, Howard has hit better than .225 against left-handed pitching just once (.264 in 2010). Since the start of the ’06 season, Howard has gotten 1,164 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers and struck out 32.6% of the time while posting a 228/309/430 line.
It’s enough to make some people wonder if what he did against lefties in 2006 might have been a little flukey.
Back to the power, though. Utley and Howard have both seen their power drop off in 2010 and 2011. Utley’s dropoff overall for those two years has been far more dramatic against righties. Howard has also seen a bigger drop in his isolated power against righties than lefties, but without results that are quite as severe as they are for Utley.
Here’s Howard’s at-bats, average, slugging and isolated power against lefties and righties for the years 2005-2009 combined as well as 2010 and 2011 combined:
|Vs Lefties||Vs Righties|
First things first and the first things is this — from 2005 through 2009, Howard slugged .661 against right-handed pitching. That’s silly. In 2006, thanks in large part to his success against left-handed pitching, Howard hit 58 homers and slugged .659 for the year year overall. That’s good enough for 80th all time on the list of single season slugging percentage.
In 2010 and 2011 combined, Howard’s isolated power against lefties dropped from .220 in the ’05-’09 period to .179. His power against righties started out a lot higher, but also fell a lot more. It dropped more than twice as much, falling from .354 to .258.
Notably, Utley has posted a higher isolated power mark than Howard against left-handed pitching over the past two years. Since the start of 2010, Utley’s isolated power against lefties is .214 compared to .179 for Howard. From 2005 to 2009, Utley and Howard has similar numbers for isolated power against lefties — .220 for Howard and .216 for Utley.
Finally, Howard’s isolated power against lefties for 2011 was .124 as he hit a rather miserable 224/286/347 against left-handed pitching. His fellow Phillie, fellow lefty Raul Ibanez put up a better isolated power number of .143 in what was a horrid season with the bat for Ibanez — he hit just 211/232/353 against lefties in 2011. There were 15 left-handed batters in the NL who got at least 125 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. Of those, Howard’s isolated power of .124 was 11th-best. In addition to Ibanez, Jay Bruce (.251), Joey Votto (.236), Brian McCann (.219), Carlos Pena (.200), Carlos Gonzalez (.177), Prince Fielder (.176), Logan Morrison (.158), Freddie Freeman (.156) and Todd Helton (.146) all topped him.
In this article, Amaro seems to suggest that the best case with Thome would have him playing first base four or five times a month. So I wouldn’t be looking for him there every day while Howard is out. Since the end of the 2006 season, Thome has made as many appearances at third base as he has at first (one). He was at third for one pitch in 2011.
This suggests that Jamie Moyer may sign a minor league deal with the Rockies.
This and this suggest the Phillies and right-handed free-agent pitcher Joel Pineiro have agreed to a minor league contract. The 33-year-old Pineiro was awful for the Angels last year, throwing to a 5.13 ERA and a 1.51 ratio over 27 appearances, 24 of which were starts. He was very good the two previous years, throwing to a 3.64 ERA with a 1.18 ratio in 55 starts with the Cardinals and Angels. Great move by the Phils.